Businesses are big waste producers, no matter what industry it’s in. While businesses can do a number of things to improve their equipment, change their operation practices and otherwise reduce waste, there’s something easy and obvious that most miss. Virtually any business can become a little more environmentally friendly and socially conscious simply by getting employees involved. Here are five ways that any employer can help encourage their employees into more sustainable habits at home and in the workplace.
Encourage employees to live more environmentally friendly
There are some things everyone can do to be more environmentally-friendly, and business managers are in a unique position to suggest and encourage environmentally-friendly measures. These may include carpooling or ride sharing, bringing lunches to work rather than purchasing chemical-ridden food pre-packaged in unrecyclable containers, taking care not to litter, and recycling as much as possible at both work and home.
Make recycling easily available in the workplace
Throughout employee lounges and high-waste areas in the workplace, place bins specifically for recyclable materials. Most areas are making steps to make more and more recycling options available, which in turn opens up the possibilities for your own recycling. Place bins for glass, plastics, aluminum, paperboard, and maybe even tin in lounge or cafeteria areas to allow employees to easily recycle their mealtime waste. Place bins for cardboard and paper around the office, especially around printers, copy machines, fax machines or supply closets.
Participate in community service
Businesses can volunteer for a number of environmentally-friendly community activities. Many areas have adopt-a-highway programs that need people who are willing to pick up trash on roadsides, help is needed to prevent erosion in exposed areas, and if organized tree plantings aren’t available in the area, you can always purchase and distribute free trees and shrubs to individuals throughout the community on your own. This greatly elevates your business’s image, while greatly improving your impact on the environment.
Make environmentally friendly donations
Philanthropic endeavors should find a place in most budgets. There are currently organizations in place for all kinds of cleanup, restoration, reduction, and research programs all over the world. In addition, there are education programs that encourage youth to get involved in working toward a healthier environment, promising a much brighter future with a new generation of environmentally and socially conscious people.
Teach and reinforce your message
It doesn’t do any good to promote charities and community service, provide recycling bins in the workplace, or encourage healthier living if no one does anything about it. Some people still prefer to throw all their trash in a single can rather than bothering about whether or not it can be recycled, and some people may not see a good reason to take out of their free time to volunteer for community service.
As an employer, you have a captive audience at least five days a week. Organize ways in which you can educate your employees as to the importance of something as simple as unplugging their printer before they leave for the day, and let them know what kind of threats the environment currently faces. If it’s an option, employees can even be given the choice to donate a small amount, maybe even just $5, from each of their paychecks to the charity of their choice and have it be matched by the company.
Once your employees know the importance of the environmentally-conscious measures you’re trying to take, you have to repeat the message. If people don’t hear something for a while they tend to relegate it to some dusty corner of their mind labeled “old news,” no longer worthy of any kind of notice. By regularly reminding the employees and reinforcing your message, you’ve greatly improved your chances of actually being able to make a difference in the environment.